DK Metcalf slices up defenses, but he doesn’t mince words. In the days preceding Sunday’s victory over the Detroit Lions, DK had a few candid thoughts to share about cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Specifically, he contested the suggestion that the former Ohio State Buckeye standout was actually locking down wide receivers. Now, for what it is worth, the third-year corner has generally performed well through the early going of the season, with Benjamin Raven of the Michigan Times saying this:
“The Lions are feeling so good about Okudah’s return from an Achilles injury that they had the cornerback travel with Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson last week. Pro Football Focus had Okudah allowing two catches for only 9 yards when covering Jefferson. That showing came after Okudah handled Commanders wideout Terry McLaurin in Week 2, not to mention helping blank Eagles pass-catcher DeVonta Smith in the opener.
Okudah allowed seven catches for only 63 yards through the first two games, per PFF. He was docked for surrendering five total catches for 43 yards in coverage during last week’s loss. The Lions haven’t utilized a cornerback the way they did Okudah the previous two weeks since All-Pro Darius Slay was still sporting the Honolulu blue. And head coach Dan Campbell is already seeing how a shutdown cornerback like Okudah can make life easier on the rest of the defense.”
But let’s step back for a moment and take a quick trip down memory lane. Pregame trash talk can manifest in a lot of ways.
One of my all-time favorites was Richard Sherman dubbing himself ‘Optimus Prime’ back in October of 2012 as the team prepared for a confrontation with ‘Megatron’ and the Detroit Lions. Of course, the Lions would win this matchup 28-24, but Richard Sherman and the defense did their part to hold Johnson to arguably his worst statistical game of the season.
This time, however, the tables are turned, with the Seattle Seahawks electing to not field a defense in 2022, instead leaning heavily on a passing game that is surprising everybody right now. And DK did his part — he absolutely shredded the Lions secondary, running Okudah right out of his cleats and into an uncomfortable pair of Metcalf-brand Clown Shoes. So let’s roll the tape!
Q2 — 5:43 — 2nd and 14
DK Metcalf before the game: “There’s a safety over the top of [Okudah], so he’s really not locking people down. But he’s a good corner." pic.twitter.com/otQlFDT48H— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) October 5, 2022
The Lions appear to come out in man coverage with a single high safety on this one. Metcalf puts a move on Okudah, and has him beat within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Geno delivers a great pass, and — just as Metcalf said before the game — Jeff ends up watching in horror as DK streaks towards the endzone, and only barely gets tackled at the goal line by safety DeShon Elliott.
Q3 — 11:04 — 1st and 10
Another one of Metcalf roasting Okudah. Jeff doesn't have bad coverage in this one, but Metcalf is pretty much uncoverable when he is having a game like this, and Geno does his part to deliver a perfect pass. pic.twitter.com/MLPMaK12qG— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) October 5, 2022
I think this is a play that DK makes on anybody; when he is having a game like this, he is more or less unstoppable. Okudah runs step for step with him here, but what little separation he allows is enough for Metcalf to haul in the big catch. Of course, this doesn’t happen without a perfect throw from Geno, and the pass blocking is excellent here. Interesting note: the pass pro slides to the right, and Will Dissly pulls to block Charles Harris, and an excellent block it was. Similarly, Abe Lucas on the right side does his part to stonewall Aidan Hutchinson’s rush, and Geno Smith is able to deliver a perfect pass from a perfect pocket. Well done all around.
Q1 — 6:17 — 1st and 10 / Q1 — 5:41 — 1st and 10
Back to back catches for Metcalf. In the first one, he pretty much pulls tight end duty as he lines up in-line and runs a seam up the middle. Second one, Okudah backs off at the snap and DK settles nicely into a soft spot in the zone. pic.twitter.com/KID8f3Dug5— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) October 5, 2022
Two plays here — the first one is not against Okudah, but I wanted to feature it anyway because it shows how versatile DK is on the field. In this one, he more or less lines up like a TE. He is inline, just outside of Charles Cross. The Lions are running zone, and DK finds the seam up the middle between DeShon Elliott and Mike Hughes. He hangs on through a big hit to make the grab and convert for a 1st.
In the second play, the team runs some play action to Penny, with Lockett motioning across the formation pre-snap. Okudah plays over the top of DK on this one, and he gives him so much cushion that Metcalf is able to find a huge soft spot in the coverage. Also, note how the protection again slides to the right, and they use a pulling tight end once more — this time Colby Parkinson — to take on the Lions stunt. Parkinson doesn’t get as good of a block as Dissly did, as he ends up getting pushed into Geno, but he does enough to stall the rush and allow Smith to deliver a strike.
Q3 — 6:01 — 2nd and 12
One more for DK. He just runs a great route here. Okudah tries to jam, but he really sells the stick route, and lb Alex Anzalone (#34) overplays it. DK shakes him and is wide open over the middle. Really shows his maturity as a route runner. pic.twitter.com/DwYLKemJFl— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) October 5, 2022
This play didn’t net a first down, but it set up 3rd and 1, which the team converted, of course. While the catch isn’t technically against Okudah — as he tries to jam, but ultimately hangs out in his zone — this is a great example of Metcalf’s route running maturity; for a guy who fell in the draft due to injury concerns and a perceived lack of route-running prowess, DK has done his part to show that he is more than capable of running a full NFL route tree. His ability to sell the stick before using his acceleration to find an opening in the middle of the field is what makes this happen.
Conclusions and other notes
- Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge the work of art that Geno Smith and DK Metcalf crafted before our eyes on Sunday. Shane Waldron called an excellent game, and the offense is really starting to take shape. No, they aren’t going to approach 50 points every week, but it looks like this team is fully buying into the offensive scheme, and the players are all doing theit part to execute the plays as called. That is all for today. Next up: a trip to the Bayou for a date with the New Orleans Saints!